Monday, February 27, 2012

NewsChannel 8 coverage of Foundry Haiti VIM team, Feb. 25

NewsChannel 8 reporter Whitney Wild filed a segment about the Foundry Haiti VIM team after we returned to Washington:

Local volunteers work to rebuild Haiti (2/25/12, NewsChannel 8)

The piece captures both the challenges Haitians continue to face in recovering from the 2010 earthquke and their spirit-filled determination.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Foundry VIM team visits Hotel Montana memorial site, Feb. 22

The Foundry VIM team visited the Hotel Montana memorial site in Port-au-Prince on Feb. 22. Two UMCOR executives died from injuries sustained during the collapse of the hotel in the 2010 earthquake. Left to right: Mark Schoeff, Lauren VanEnk, Lynn Kim, Dawn Hand, Joe Brennan, Becky Hein, Ace Parsi, our interpreter Jean Claude, Harold Raymond.

Foundry VIM conducts Ash Wednesday service in Mellier, Feb. 22

Foundry Associate Pastor Dawn Hand conducted an Ash Wednesday service in Mellier on Feb. 22, prior to the VIM team's departure. The ashes were a mixture of those from Foundry and Mellier.

Foundry Haiti VIM team: Day Six

The last full day in Haiti for the Foundry VIM team -- Wednesday, Feb. 22 -- began with faith and ended with works.

Before departing the Mellier worksite, Foundry Associate Pastor Dawn Hand conducted an Ash Wednesday service for 20 people, including the nine Foundry VIM team members and 11 Haitians.

Pastor Dawn imposed an ash mixture comprised of ashes from Foundry and those gathered from the coals used by the four-person Mellier kitchen staff, who prepared the VIM team's meals.

Eguins Louissaint bid the VIM team farewell on behalf of the Mellier community.

"I believe one day we will be together again to worship in the (Methodist) church of Mellier," Eguins said. "We do not share the same language, but we share the same language of God. I love you."

After leaving Mellier, the Foundry team toured Port-au-Prince, viewing the national palace, which still lies in ruins, and a tent city that continues to occupy a prominent downtown square.

After lunch, the team visited the Hotel Montana, where Clint Rabb and Sam Dixon, United Methodist Committee on Relief executives, died from injuries sustained in the collapse of the hotel in the January 2010 earthquake. The team said a prayer at memorial on the site.

In the afternoon, the team returned to the Methodist Guest House in Petionville.

After relaxing briefly, the team reported to United Methodist Volunteers in Mission leadership about their Mellier experience, an important final action to complete their week in Haiti.

Over the course of more than five hours, the group met with Tom Vencuss, project coordinator for the Haiti Response Plan, a partnership between UMCOR, UMVIM and Eglise Methodiste de Haiti; Lauen James, UMCOR liaison to EMH, and Pastor Fede Jean Pierre, superintendent for the EMH circuit that includes Mellier.

Nicole Woo, Lauren VanEnk and Ace Parsi outlined several of the concerns related to them by the Mellier community, including teacher salaries and training, the hiring of local workers at the Mellier construction site, a school lunch program and micro-finance in Mellier.

In each meeting, the Foundry team sought to ensure that the $7200 Foundry raised to support teacher salaries and the school lunch program reached its intended recipients.

Pastor Fede said that his circuit is considering changing the worksite-pay system so that the workers are compensated directly by the church district instead of by the site boss.

He also said that he is trying to get local communities more involved in supporting their schools.

As Haiti struggles to recover from the earthquake, the Haiti Response Plan faces its own challenges in trying to help the country. The group is supporting 25 worksites while developing other initiatives.

"There's so much to do, and we have limited resources," said Pastor Tom.

On Thursday, Feb. 23, the VIM team will leave Haiti on a 10:30 a.m. flight to Miami. We're due to arrive in Washington in the early evening.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Foundry team listens to Mellier community

Harold Raymond conducted Q+A in Creole during the Foundry VIM team's meeting with the Mellier community on Feb. 21.

Foundry Haiti VIM team presents gifts

Foundry Haiti VIM team leader Nicole Woo presents gifts to the school faculty and church leaders in Mellier.

Foundry Haiti VIM: Day Five, Feb. 21

The Foundry Haiti VIM team reached out to members of the Mellier community today to learn about their daily challenges and pass their concerns along to the Haiti Response Plan in Port au Prince and to the Foundry congregation.

In the morning, Nicole Woo, Lauren VanEnk and Ace Parsi met with the faculty of the school in Mellier that convenes at the VIM site.

The teachers told the VIM team that they struggle with lack of training and low and inconsistent pay. But they continue on because of their love of education.

At the end of the day, the Foundry VIM team met with 30 Mellier citizens in the makeshift church on the site.

The Mellier residents cited a lack of water and a dearth of jobs as two of the community's biggest problems. The former is undermining agriculture while the latter results in idle youth who can cause trouble. Mellier also needs some kind of training school for post-secondary education, according to one speaker.

Lunch, too, was a community affair, with the school faculty and church leaders joining the Foundry team. After lunch, the team presented four duffel bags full of gifts for the school and the church.

For the second day, Lauren, Becky Hein, Lynn Kim and Dawn Hand conducted Vacation Bible School. They led 52 students in several activities.

Work on the construction site continued. The Foundry team played key roles on a cement-supply chain that produced substantial progress on support beams for a balcony in the church-multipurpose facility.

While construction was going on, Becky and other Foundry VIM team members taught local women to make jewelry.

Becky hopes the women will be able to start their own micro-business.

"Today we taught people how to fish," Becky said.

The Foundry team has built on the foundation of the two previous teams to journey to Mellier over the last year.

"We are touched that you have come to live among us," said Patrick Pierre, principal of the school.

The Foundry team benefited from the generous hospitality of the community. The cooks and interpreters were a blessing. They made our Haiti experience comfortable and joyous.

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Monday, February 20, 2012

Foundry VIM team at the tap tap

The Foundry VIM team steps out of a popular form of transportation in Mellier -- a tap tap. From left to right: Lauren VanEnk, Harold Raymond, Joe Brennan, Nicole Woo, Becky Hein, Ace Parsi, Mark Schoeff, Dawn Hand, one of our interpreters, Caz, and Lynn Kim.

Preparing Vacation Bible School lesson

Lynn Kim (l) and Becky Hein prepare a Vacation Bible School activity on Feb. 20 in Mellier.

Lauren teaches Vacation Bible School

Foundry VIM team member Lauren VanEnk helped lead Vacation Bible School on Feb. 20 in Mellier.

Foundry Haiti VIM: Day Five, Feb. 20

Monday was a holiday both in the United States and in Haiti, giving the Foundry VIM team a chance to conduct Vacation Bible School.

Lauren VanEnk, Lynn Kim and Becky Hein led nearly 100 children in arts and crafts, Bible lessons and games.

Meanwhile, the VIM team construction crew continued to work on the church- multipurpose building, forming a cement-transport assembly line to build a balcony in the structure.

Later in the afternoon, the VIM team toured nearby Leogane. We took a bouncy ride in a tap tap along unpaved side streets. Our visit included a stop at a sugar-cane processing facility, a hospital and the sprawling Leogane market.

On the way back, we passed a housing division comprised of new homes built in place of those that crumbled in the 2010 earthquake.
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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mellier at play

Joe Brennan, a member of the Foundry Haiti VIM team, mixes it up with the kids of Mellier who visited the VIM living and worksite on Sunday, Feb. 19.

Making jewelry in Mellier

Lynn Kim, a member of the Haiti VIM team, makes jewelry for children of Mellier following a meeting of community women led by the women of the VIM group.

Foundry Haiti VIM team participates in Feb. 19 church service

The Foundry VIM team presented gifts to Eglise Methodiste de Mellier and led the congregation in singing "Marching in the Light of God" at the Feb. 19 service.

Foundry VIM in Haiti: Day 4, Feb. 19

Two members of the Foundry VIM team delivered messages and the group sang and presented several gifts to the Eglise Methodiste de Mellier during the church's service on Sunday, Feb. 19.

The Foundry team was greeted warmly by the 160 people attending the morning worship. We led a Creole-English rendition of "Marching in the Light of God" and presented to the church four hymnals, a bowl, a chalice and a digital audio edition of the Bible in Creole.

Meditations from two Foundry VIM team members highlighted the service. Ace Parsi, a Haiti VIM veteran, told the congregation how happy he was to return to Mellier.

"God and the church are in the people here," Parsi said. "I have never felt the presence of God as I do when I stand with the people here."

Harold Raymond, another VIM team member and a Haitian-American, addressed the congregation in Creole.
Moved by the opportunity to share a message with fellow Haitians, Harold gave an emotional meditation, saying the Foundry group was responding to God's call to help Haiti rebuild and relieve its suffering.

He then led the congregation in a spirited version of the hymn "Quel Beau Nom."

Later in the day, the women of the Foundry VIM team led a meeting of nearly 50 Mellier women. They covered health, economics and education.

Afterwards, they made jewelry and played with the nearly two dozen children who attended the event.

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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Foundry team and community work on project

Workers from Mellier and other communities join Foundry VIM team members Lauren VanEnk (l) and Becky Hein (c) at the Mellier construction site. Becky is a member of Benevola UMC in Boonsboro, Md.

Foundry VIM team interacts with community

Foundry VIM team member Ace Parsi (l) talked with Eguins Louissaint, a young man from Mellier working alongside the Foundry team at the construction site.

Haiti VIM: Day 3, Feb. 18

Each time Foundry sends a VIM team to Haiti, it participates in a project designed to employ Haitians and boost the local economy.

The Foundry team in Mellier this week is rebuilding a multipurpose facility that will house a church and other programs.

The Foundry team is working alongside 11 construction personnel from Mellier and surrounding communities.

One of the leaders of the Mellier group, Eguins Louissaint, sat down with Foundry VIM team member Ace Parsi today. Here is Ace's reflection:

I asked a young man, Eguins, for one message to give to our congregation.

He said, "Continue to pray so God can bless the church and especially those in necessity so that God can make a way for them, too."

There is certainly necessity AND potential in Haiti. Eguins, in his early 20s, has finished his second year in college-level economics and can't afford to continue.

Similarly, Haiti's soil is rich and ideal to grow rice, but all around we see bags of rice with American flags. These bags represent the subsidized crops that put many Haitian farmers out of work.

Answers are not simple. The people pushing the bags of rice thought they were hiring American farmers and feeding a nation, not taking the livelihood of others.

Well-meaning answers are not enough. We must be willing to sit with the discomfort, ask people how we can walk toward their dreams, not the dreams we hold for them -- and work for solutions that are long-term and sustainable.

I asked Eguins to close our conversation with prayer. He said, "Dear God, even though we have a different skin color, language and culture, you have made it so we worship one God."

Late Saturday afternoon, the Foundry team took a walking tour of Mellier, a small town that was hit hard by the 2010 earthquake.

We saw rebuilding and striking economic progress as well as deep challenges that remain for the vast majority of its residents.

God, give us as a team and as a congregation the wisdom and the resolve to be true to the spirit of brotherhood Eguins and we pray for.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Foundry VIM trip to Haiti: Construction site, Feb. 18

Foundry VIM team members Harold Raymond (l) and Nicole Woo participated in a cement-conveyor belt at the Mellier worksite on Feb. 17.

Foundry VIM team arrives in Mellier: Feb. 17

Lauren VanEnk (l) and Ace Parsi (r) were engulfed by the children of Mellier, who were happy to see the veterans of previous Haiti VIM trips return.

Haiti Day Two: Feb. 17, 2012

Nearly a dozen children rushed to greet the van carrying the Foundry VIM team this morning as it pulled into Mellier.

The buzz demonstrated that previous Foundry teams created an enduring connection to the people in this rural community about 10 kilometers east of Port au Prince in Leogane, the epicenter of the 2010 earthquake.

The following is a reflection by Foundry VIM team member Lauren VanEnk, who is on her second VIM trip to Haiti:

Everything is growing! Today we arrived at our work site in Mellier, and the only thing familiar about it was the shining faces of the children. The church community center had grown from a bare foundation to a full two-story building.

The rocky path behind the kitchen was suddenly a full garden of tomatoes and green peppers.

Even the number of children at the school has grown. The progress is amazing!

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Haiti VIM team arrives

On Thursday, February 16, 2012, wrote: 
By Dawn Hand 

Greetings. The Foundry VIM team arrived this evening, Feb. 16, at the Methodist Mission House in Petion-Ville, outside of Port-au-Prince. 

We had an adventurous ride from the airport through the Haitian capital on the back of a paddy wagon. Nine people and luggage bounced around on the dusty, winding roads. 

During the journey, we saw some of the effects of the 2012  earthquake that left 300,000 dead and 1.5 million homeless. Signs of rebuilding -- new housing structures rising from the ground -- stood alongside reminders of the devastation -- several tent camps. 

As soon as we arrived at the Methodist Guest House, we sat down for a dinner of fried chicken, rice and beans, yams and salad. Yum. 

Following an orientation session by a Haiti Response Plan official, the Foundry team met. We distributed devotional books and reflected on our first impressions of the country. The team will be sleeping on bunk beds tonight in the guest house. 

Early Friday morning, we will head to Mellier, about two hours outside of Port-au-Prince. I'm glad to be here and to be working with our team, which includes Ace Parsi, Becky Hein, Harold Raymond, Joe Brennan, Lauren VanEnk, Lynn Kim, Mark Schoeff Jr. and Nicole Woo. 

In Mellier, we will help with construction of a multi-purpose facility and help teach Vacation Bible School with the kids. 

Mark Schoeff Jr. contributed to this report.